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GOP Picks Gubernatorial Candidates

June 12, 2002

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A former congressman and lieutenant governor in South Carolina advanced to a runoff for the state’s Republican gubernatorial nomination on Tuesday, while North Dakota residents voted in favor of financial privacy in a landmark ballot issue.

Congressional primaries were also decided in Maine and South Carolina, as was the GOP gubernatorial primary in Maine.

Former Rep. Mark Sanford and Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler were the top two vote-getters in a seven-candidate field in South Carolina, but neither received more than half the vote to avoid the June 25 runoff.

With 97 percent of the vote counted, Sanford garnered 39 percent to Peeler’s 37 percent. Attorney General Charlie Condon, long thought to be among the front runners, trailed with 16 percent.

The winner will challenge Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges, whose promise of a state lottery to aid education helped him topple a three-term GOP incumbent in 1998. Republicans hope to oust Hodges this fall by tying him to South Carolina’s rocky economy, increased unemployment and deep cuts at state agencies.

Hodges is one of just three Southern Democratic governors with GOP-majority statehouses seeking re-election. The others are in Georgia and Alabama.

Another runoff was set for South Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District, where six Republicans battled to succeed GOP Rep. Lindsey Graham, who is seeking the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond.

With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, state Rep. Gresham Barrett led the field with 44 percent; just 35 votes separated the second- and third-place candidates, state Rep. Jim Klauber and former prosecutor George Ducworth. The top two vote-getters will advance to the runoff, and the GOP nominee will be favored over Democrat George Brightharp.

In Maine, Republicans chose businessman Peter Cianchette over educator Jim Libby in the gubernatorial primary. With ballots counted in 85 percent of Maine’s precincts, Cianchette had a lead of 67 percent to Libby’s 33 percent.

Cianchette will be the fifth candidate in the crowded race to succeed independent Gov. Angus King, who is barred by law from seeking a third consecutive term.

Uncontested in their gubernatorial primaries were Democratic Rep. John Baldacci, who is leaving the House after four terms, and Jonathan Carter, a Green Party candidate who could qualify for $900,000 in public campaign funds in his second gubernatorial bid. Democrats worry he could siphon off Democratic votes this fall.

The race to succeed Baldacci drew 10 candidates _ six Democrats and four Republicans. With 89 percent of precincts reporting, unofficial tabulations had state Sen. President pro tem Michael Michaud leading the Democrats with 31 percent, and former congressional aide Kevin Raye leading a tightly bunched Republican pack, with 31 percent.

In North Dakota, residents decided that banks must get written permission to sell customer information to other businesses, the first such vote on financial privacy in the United States.

With 92 percent of precincts reporting, an overwhelming 74 percent voted against a new state law that lifted the requirement for written permission.

North Dakotans also approved a constitutional amendment that would allow candidates to run for offices in counties where they do not live. The proposal was intended to make it easier for rural areas to find county prosecutors and other professionals.

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